Growing up homeschooled, in a family of 4 kids, we always began the day with family devotions. I can remember sitting around and taking turns reading through a chapter while my mom would prompt us to dig deeper with questions. We'd pray for our friends, family and missionaries as we'd close and prepare to begin the day. Focusing on starting the day with the Truth was always a priority.
Somewhere through my teenage and early adult years, I lost this focus and desire to be in the Word. I knew it was where I needed to be to grow as a believer, but I just could never get into it. Then, after a few months of marriage, we found our church, Harvest Bible Chapel, and heard the Truth preached like never before. No apology, no mincing words, but filled with love, the Word of Life struck my heart and found a deep root again.
It's been almost 8 years since we've been attending, and I have seen God do things in my life that I would never have imagined. He has given me a desire for His Word, a longing for communion with Him, a heart for loving others, helping me to learn patience and grace as we grow as a family.
When I began homeschooling 3 years ago, I was determined that my children would be well above “The Mark”. I didn't know many people who were homeschooling at the time, so I felt we had to set a standard, prove ourselves, excel and succeed over and above everyone else, whether in public school or homeschooled. The competition, in my mind was on, and I was dead set on beating everyone.
This led me to push our eldest to tears many days as we practiced tracing letters and numbers, drilled math facts, screamed and yelled when he couldn't figure out simple math problems, threw up my hands in defeat when he couldn't read words I KNEW he knew, only to charge back in, as determined as ever to make this kid smart.
Early in the school year last year that I began to have doubts about whether homeschooling was going to work for us. I was beaten, tired of pushing, curriculum wasn't working, I was juggling schooling for 2 kids, and a baby, and it just wasn't coming together. It was then that I finally heard God whispering to me, telling me the secret of just what was missing.
My focus had been completely on academics. They were going to succeed because of what they learned in school, because that's where they make their place in the world, right? WRONG! God showed me, through 1 Kings 6 and Solomon's building of the temple, that my focus was way out of whack. I was focusing on building our EARTHLY home, when I should have been focusing on building our HEAVENLY home!
Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, “Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.”
(1 Kings 6:11-13 ESV)
The building of the temple signifies so many things. Heaven is our eternal temple – the church is our physical temple here, built upon the Rock. Christ is the true temple, through which we have access to God, and as believers, we are also a temple, where the Holy Spirit dwells. But each one of us has to be specially designed and prepared in advance for entry into the eternal temple, God's heavenly kingdom. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God's divine design, but also wonderfully made NEW by His divine grace. The work has to be done here on earth so we are ready to be a part of the heavenly temple.
When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.
(1 Kings 6:7 ESV)
God did a marvelous work in my life and has been teaching me ever since, that the absolute MOST IMPORTANT thing, is to teach our children THE TRUTH. The world is so full of people who are trying to use evolution to prove science, instead of accepting the TRUTH of God's design and creation. Pastors and teachers have adopted false teachings and doctrine and are leading many astray. Lies are hidden, and subtle, when they used to be obvious. My children may or may not grow up as whizzes at academics, but will they be able to discern the TRUTH?
Today's culture teaches that truth is relative – …”truth changes from person to person, moment to moment, day to day, and situation to situation.”
Rachael speaks directly to this in Chapter 5 – Teach Them the Truth, by addressing the importance of setting a foundation of truth through God's Word. I LOVE this list she came up with on God's Truth:
1. Truth exists – it answers all of life's questions
2. Truth is knowable – we can understand God's word
3. Truth is objective – it does not change based on how we feel, our emotions
4. Truth is universal – for the whole world, and the same everywhere
5. Truth is absolute – it is ALWAYS true, it has not and will never change (2+2 equaled 4 when Noah built the ark, same as today!)
6. Truth is exclusive – it excludes opposites, and is only in Jesus Christ!
So practically, how do we help our children to set this truth as their foundation for everything?
Everywhere we look creation speaks of a masterful creator.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 ESV)
Point out to your children the wonder of a snowflake, the awesome ability of the basilisk lizard and gecko, the majesty of a thunderstorm, the beauty of a sunrise. Whether you homeschool or not, focus on the evidence of a Creator through creation.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 ESV)
TEACH God's word!
The most important subject you can teach your children is to read and understand God's word. Of course, YOU need to be doing this FIRST, for yourself, in order to teach your children.
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
(Isaiah 50:4 ESV)
We have family devotions every morning with my husband, and I am so grateful that he is able to spend the time teaching them and answering their questions. We also work a character or bible study into our breakfast time – and I find that if we skip that extra time, I am not focused and instead rather irritable and short with our kids! If you aren't sure where to start, just begin reading through the gospels with your children. Take it slow, making sure you and they are understanding what you're reading. For some great in depth worldview studies, I would highly recommend Apologia's What We Believe. For character studies, we have used and really like 10 Days of Character Studies and The Narrow Way.
Teach your children the VALUE of God's word.
Show them the value of learning God's word by studying together, and learn about people like George Mueller, Charles Wesley, David Livingston, the disciples and apostles, who valued above everything else the Word of God. With so much accessibility to the Word for us in North America, it can be easy to lose the value of what we have. We are BLESSED to have the Word of God in our hands! So many people don't know the Truth, let alone have a bible in their hands. That is why I am thankful for organizations like One Verse and Gospel For Asia, which we can support and pray for, teaching our children to give generously and help others to receive the truth of God's word.
LIVE the Truth! Actions speak louder than words.
Model for your children what you are learning through your own studies, and practice what you preach! “LIVE OUT LOUD!” And I'm speaking to myself here!
“It's not enough to breathe life into hundred and thousand year-old stories, no matter how factual and inspiring. Your personal and daily example will either negate or reinforce what you read.”
I am weak – and I fail in this area often multiple times daily. But one of the best examples I can give to my children is to model repentance and forgiveness by coming to them and admitting my wrong. It's ok to fail, as long as you're failing forward, learning from your sin, allowing God's word and the Holy Spirit to continually refine you.
Teach the importance of knowing God's law and his truth – the Truth of the law shows us our sin (Romans 3:19), and points us directly to Christ, through whom is the only way for us to be saved (Romans 3:21-26)! When we come to know that, our chains are gone, we are set free.
Teach to the HEART, not the action.
When the heart is convicted, then the actions follow. As Rachael said:
“Truth takes care of rudeness, laziness, disobedience, selfishness, undisciplined impatience, lying, stealing, lust and cheating.”
There is no better way to combat sin than with the TRUTH! We use a fantastic resource, For Instruction In Righteousness, to help us to identify heart issues in our children. It points to scripture that speaks specifically to the sin, and has really helped me to know how to guide my children in the truth.
MEMORIZE the Truth.
Make hiding God's word in your hearts a priority.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
(Psalm 119:9-11 ESV)
Be intentional about the passages you pick. And don't be afraid to tackle whole sections of Scripture at one time! You will find that young minds are eager to learn and be taught, and together you will be preparing your hearts and minds to teach the Truth to others.
Some suggestions from the chapter for where to start memorizing are:
- Colossians 3 (yes, the whole chapter! If you want a smaller bite, start with verses 12-17)
- Isaiah 53
- 1 Corinthians 13
- Ephesians 2 and 6
- Philippians 4
- Proverbs 3
- John 10
Don't let this intimidate you! Work up to the goal of memorizing whole chapters as a family. Pick a theme for your year and verses to memorize that go along with it. For example, our theme this year is “Be Like Christ” and our key verses are Colossians 1:10 and Colossians 3:12-17. When the kids were smaller, we started off with specific bible verses which spoke to areas they were struggling with, then moved into A-Z Memory Verses. The key is to CHOOSE verses, and to choose them based on where you want to learn and grow. Don't just pick something because someone else suggested it!
By God's grace, he has changed me over the past year and a half, to bring me out of a focus on success in academics, into seeing the importance of teaching, above all else, my children HIS TRUTH. I desire for my children to love God and his word above and use it as the standard by which they do everything.
Our mission as parents, whether we homeschool or not, is to teach our children the Truth. And our commission has been given in Deuteronomy:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)
As much as you love your children, GOD LOVES THEM MORE. Why is it important to teach them His Truth? Because in the end, it doesn't matter how hard you've worked to help them develop stellar math skills, write a superb essay, come up with brilliant science projects, or communicate well with others; you can teach them to curb bad attitudes, encourage them to have right responses, and model for them a life that follows hard after God….but in the end, it is the Truth of God's Word and their yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them that will change their hearts.
Are you teaching your children the Truth? Are you going indepth into God's word for yourself so that you may be prepared to do this? How has God been blessing you in this? How has he been revealing himself and his truth to you?